01/05/2009

Carol Ann Duffy Named First Female Poet Laureate

Carol Ann Duffy (pictured) has been named the first woman to be appointed as the new Poet Laureate.

The 53-year-old, who takes over from Andrew Morton - who had been in the role since 1999 - is the first female to take the role in it's 341-year history.

An acclaimed poet and playwright, Duffy is the author of numerous award-winning poetry collections, plays, and fairy tales and poetry for children. Awarded an OBE in 1995 and a CBE in 2002 for services to Poetry, she lives in Manchester where she is Creative Director of the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Duffy, who had been widely expected to take over the role, confirmed she had taken the role during an interview on BBC Radio 4.

Duffy said: "I'm really thrilled to have it properly announced on Woman's Hour and here in Manchester."

Duffy told the programme she had thought "long and hard" before saying she would take the job. I look on it as a recognition of the great woman poets we have writing now," she said. "I've decided to accept it for that reason."

She added: "Poetry is all around us, all of the time, whether in song or in speech or on the page, and we turn to it when events, personal or public, matter most.

"In accepting this Laureateship, I hope to contribute to people's understanding of what poetry can do and where it can be found."
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Culture Secretary Andy Burnham also commented on the appointment, saying: "Carol Ann Duffy is a towering figure in English literature today and a superb poet. I am delighted that she has accepted the Laureateship.

“She will be a very worthy successor to Andrew Motion whose approach to the role has done so much to revive public interest in the post. His achievement has been outstanding and I pay tribute to his exceptional public service during his period as Laureate.

"He is succeeded today by someone who, in my view, has achieved something that only the true greats of literature manage - that is to be regarded as both popular and profound. It's a measure of her reach and impact on our national life that her poems can be the subject of serious academic study and, at the same time, be just as at home when families gather for the landmark events of their lives."

It is expected that Carol Ann Duffy will meet The Queen for an Audience at Buckingham Palace in the coming months.

The honorary Royal post of Poet Laureate is awarded to a poet whose work is of national significance. The laureateship came into existence in 1668 when King Charles II gave John Dryden the official title. Past Laureates have included Dryden, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Betjeman and Hughes.

The role has changed over time - originally the office involved writing court odes to mark occasions such as the Sovereign's birthday, but today the position is purely honorary.

(JM/BMcC)

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